Many car accidents can be handled without the help of an attorney. If you're involved in a minor fender-bender, you can generally deal directly with the insurance companies to settle the matter.
However, if you or a passenger was seriously injured in a crash that wasn't your fault, you'll probably want to work with an experienced car accident attorney to ensure that you're treated fairly by the insurance company and get the compensation you'll need to make a complete recovery.
What You Can Expect From an Attorney
Very few Americans have a reason to work with an attorney on a regular basis. For many of our clients, their call to us following a serious car accident is the first time they have ever talked to a lawyer.
If your only familiarity with lawyers comes from television crime shows, you should understand that attorneys owe clients certain duties, including the following:
- Duty to avoid conflict of interest. Your lawyer cannot represent someone else whose interests are adverse to yours in this case. In a car accident claim, this means the law firm you're working with cannot represent other drivers involved in the crash or the insurance company for the other driver. They can, however, represent other plaintiffs in unrelated accidents.
- Duty of confidentiality. Anything you discuss with your attorney must be kept secret. This allows you to freely discuss the details of the car accident without fear the other driver or insurance agent will be given the information.
- Duty to provide competent representation. When a lawyer takes your case, he or she should do so with the understanding that he has the expertise to adequately represent you. If he finds that he can’t, he must notify you and refer you to another attorney or law firm.
- Duty to diligently represent. When an attorney takes your case, he or she is agreeing to vigorously represent your point of view. You should also be informed of the status of your case and should never be advised to do anything illegal or immoral.
Understanding your attorney’s basic responsibilities can help you determine if you're receiving adequate legal representation.
What You Can Expect From a Car Accident Attorney
Once you've decided to work with an attorney on your car accident claim, there are certain additional services you should expect. When choosing an attorney, ask questions and confirm that he or she will do the following:
- Provide a free initial consultation to review the facts of your case and determine if you have a valid claim.
- Offer a contingency-fee arrangement that says you don’t pay any legal fees until and unless your claim is successful.
- Take over all communication with other parties—including insurance adjusters—involved in the case.
- Obtain all relevant evidence, including accident reports, medical records, and driving records.
- Conduct further investigation into the cause of the accident, using experts such as an accident reconstructionist and doctors, if necessary.
- Determine the full cost of your treatments and lost wages before making a settlement demand. With a catastrophic injury such as a traumatic brain injury or paralysis, this can take some time.
- Negotiate in good faith with the insurance company for the liable party.
- Prepare the case for trial in the event a fair settlement can't be reached.
- Try the case in court with thorough preparation and an assertive presentation.
Because car accidents are personal injury cases, any personal injury attorney may be willing take your case. However, you should understand that car and truck accidents present specific challenges, and you'll be best served by a law firm that concentrates on your type of accident.
Have You Been Injured In A Kansas City Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.